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Authors: Michael Ignatieff

Tags: #Political Ideologies, #Social Science, #General, #Political Science, #Ethnic Studies, #Nationalism, #History

Blood and Belonging

BOOK: Blood and Belonging
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Praise for
Blood and Belonging

A concise, intelligent eyewitness critique of a half-dozen of the more virulent post–Cold War patriotisms extant.”

—Stan Persky,
The Globe and Mail

“This is an immensely impressive meditation on nationalism in the post–Cold War era. In moving prose that is both powerful and subtle, Ignatieff introduces readers to the intellectual origins of modern nationalism as well as the often brutal results … A remarkable work.”

Library Journal

“A compelling mix of interviews, history, vivid impressions and sharp reportage.”

Publishers Weekly

“A wise and sensitive book … Ignatieff has admirably used a cosmopolitan sensibility to find what is recognizable and human in what, to him and to many of us, seems most strange.”

New York Newsday

“Uncannily contemporary … in ambition, the book pre-empts the evening news to establish, and then analyze, a context for events and changes by no means complete. To combine reporting, political philosophy, complex personal sentiment and prophesy is an almost Sisyphean task.”

The Gazette

“A very anecdotal and essayistic ramble through a landscape of horror, grief and fanaticism … vivid and deeply felt … absorbing.”

Boston Sunday Globe

“Michael Ignatieff brings heart and generosity [to] tragedy.”

Toronto Star

None of us should ignore this book. Its message is too important, too disturbing.”

Times Educational Supplement

“Ignatieff takes an intellectual's safari … In this beautifully conducted, unsettling tour, Ignatieff's personal recreations teach almost as much about nationalism's roots as the scenes of people and places he paints. The real value of
Blood and Belonging
to Canadians … is not the answers it offers, but rather the questions it makes us ask.”

Ottawa Citizen

“Anyone who looks with horror and disbelief at the ethnic hatred tearing apart so many countries today will be riveted … An extraordinary accomplishment.”

The Vancouver Sun

“[A] beautifully written elegy for civilization.”

The Ottawa Sun

“Michael Ignatieff is a richly talented writer and reporter. One of his greatest gifts is an eye for the heartbreaking detail that makes the seeming madness of recent news stories comprehensible in human terms.”

—Robert McNeil,
The McNeil/Lehrer News Hour

“Ignatieff … is a reporter with a keen eye and a poetic sensibility. His subject matter is grim; his prose, passionate and evocative, bringing alive scenes that readers will be glad not to have witnessed in person … Vivid and readable, it provides unforgettable impressions of societies that are going in the wrong direction on the highway to brotherhood and unity.”

Washington Post Book World

“Explores the heart of the most virulent nationalist conflicts around the world … A valuable, thought-provoking book.”

Calgary Herald



is a distinguished author of both fiction and non-fiction. His novel
Scar Tissue
was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, while
The Russian Album
, a family memoir, won the Governor General's Award and the Heinemann Prize from Britain's Royal Society of Literature. His work on ethnic nationalism in the 1990s resulted in a television series and the book
Blood and Belonging
, which won the Lionel Gelber Prize. Until August 2005, he was Carr Professor of the Practice of Human Rights and director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.



A Just Measure of Pain:

Penitentiaries in the Industrial Revolution, 1780–1850

Wealth and Virtue: The Shaping of Political Economy in the Scottish Enlightenment
(co-edited with Istvan Hont)

The Needs of Strangers

The Russian Album

The Warrior's Honour: Ethnic War and the Modern Conscience

Isaiah Berlin: A Life

Virtual War: Kosovo and Beyond

The Rights Revolution

Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry

Empire Lite:

Nation-Building in Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan

The Lesser Evil: Political Ethics in an Age of Terror



Scar Tissue

Charlie Johnson in the Flames




Journeys into the New Nationalism

Michael Ignatieff


Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4P 2Y3

(a division of Pearson Canada Inc.)

Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.

Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd)

Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia

(a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd)

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(a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd)

Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

First published in a Viking Canada hardcover by Penguin Group (Canada),

a division of Pearson Canada Inc., 1993

Published in Penguin Canada paperback by Penguin Group (Canada),

a division of Pearson Canada Inc., 1994

Published in this edition, 2006

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 (WEB)

Copyright © Michael Ignatieff, 1993

All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

Manufactured in Canada.

ISBN-10: 0-14-305468-6

ISBN-13: 978-0-14-305468-9

Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication data available upon request

Except in the United States of America, this book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher's prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

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The Last Refuge














The UN checkpoint was a sandbagged Portakabin manned by two Canadian infantrymen guarding a road barrier between the Croat- and Serb-held sections of Pakrac, in central Croatia. The road to the checkpoint wound its way between pulverized bungalows, upended cars in the ditches, waist-high grass in abandoned gardens. Just visible in the grass, as we approached the checkpoint, were two teenage Croatian spotters with their binoculars trained on the Serbian side.

The UN had just waved us through into Serb-held territory when fifteen armed Serbian paramilitaries surrounded our van. They had been drinking at a wedding in their village. The drunkest one, with dead eyes and glassy, sweat-beaded skin, forced the van door open and clambered in. “We watching you,” he said, making binocular gestures with his hands. “You talk to Ustashe,” and he pointed back at the Croatians hiding in the grass. Then he took the pistol out of his belt. “You fucking spies,” he said. He ordered the driver out at gunpoint, took the wheel, and began revving the engine. “Why can't I shoot this?” groaned the cameraman in the seat behind. “Because he'll shoot
” someone in the back of the van muttered.

The Serb put the van into gear and it was moving off when one of the UN soldiers yanked open the door, grabbed the
keys, and shut off the ignition. “We'll do this my way,” the UN soldier said, breathing heavily, half puffing, half cajoling the Serb out of the driver's seat. Another young Serb in combat gear pushed his way into the van and shook his head. “I am police. You are under arrest. Follow me.”

This was the moment, in my journeys in search of the new nationalism, in which I began to understand what the new world order actually looks like: paramilitaries, drunk on plum brandy and ethnic paranoia, trading shots with each other across a wasteland; a checkpoint between them, placed there by something loftily called “the international community” but actually manned by just two anxious adolescents; and a film crew wondering, for a second or two, whether they were going to get out alive.

The writ of the “international community” ran no farther than 150 meters either side of the UN checkpoint. Beyond that there was gun law. The paramilitaries took us to the police station in the village, where the chief spent an hour establishing to his satisfaction that because our translator's grandfather had been born on the Croatian island of Krk, he must be a Croatian spy. But then a telephone call arrived, instructing the chief to release us. No one would say who had given the orders. It appeared to have been the local Serb warlord. This was my first encounter with a warlord's power, but it was not to be my last.

I am a child of the Cold War. I was born in the year of the Berlin Airlift of 1947 and my first political memory of any consequence is of being very afraid, for one day, during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Looking back now, I can see that I lived through the last imperial age, the last time when the nation-states of the world were clearly allocated to two opposing spheres of influence, the last time when terror produced
peace. Now terror seems only to produce more terror.

If the twenty-first century has already begun, as some people say it has, then it began in 1989. When the Berlin Wall came down, when Václav Havel stood on the balcony in Prague's Wenceslas Square and crowds cheered the collapse of the Communist regimes across Europe, I thought, like many people, that we were about to witness a new era of liberal democracy. My generation had almost reconciled itself to growing old in the fearful paralysis of the Cold War. Suddenly a new order of free nations began to take shape— from the Baltic republics to the Black Sea, from Tallinn to Berlin, from Prague to Budapest, Belgrade, and Bucharest: In August 1991, when Muscovites defended the Russian Parliament against the tanks, we believed that the civic courage which had brought down the last twentieth-century empire might even be strong enough to sustain Russia's transition to democracy We even thought, for a while, that the democratic current in the East might sweep through our own exhausted oligarchies in the West.

BOOK: Blood and Belonging
11.25Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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